If you’ve been paying attention to UK politics at all for the past year, you’ll know that Scotland’s upcoming referendum is tomorrow, September 18th. The question is this: Should Scotland become independent from the United Kingdom?Before we continue, if you’re still a bit fuzzy on how the UK functions as a “county of countries” we watched this video in my first history class at the University of Stirling back in 2012 and it’s still helpful:
Scotland has been a part of the Union since 1707, but is 307 years too long? Some Scots certainly think so, especially Alex Salmon, who is leading the Independence movement.
Why become independent? Much of this has to do with political dissent with the larger United Kingdom and their conservative government, combined with concerns over the English use of Scottish taxes and the inaccessibility of resources within the United Kingdom (I’ve heard concerns about the English medical system a lot, personally.) A longer history of dissent has predated this, of course, but those seem to be the driving forces.
Oh, and a heavy dose of whisky-slinging, kilt-wearing, Saltire-waving nationalism, of course.
If the vote goes Yes then we should see Scotland become independent on March 24, 2016 with a new constitution, but continuing to be loyal to the crown (much as Canada and Australia are.) If no, Scotland stays a part of the United Kingdom, although some talks have been had to expand Scotland’s parliament and government bodies even if they stay.
A lot of what will happen to Scotland after the referendum politically is up in the air, and will likely require another vote. Will Scotland enter the European Union? Will they use the Euro, keep using the pound, or find another currency? How will it fund itself? Can they ever go back? Sky News breaks down some of these questions, and offers possible responses, here.”
What we do know, as Katrin Bennhold of the New York Times puts it, is that the referendum “will be a messy and acrimonious divorce,” but many Scots seem to think it’s worth it.
All over Scotland you can see signs of people’s preferences, with blue Yes stickers and purple No, Thanks on stickers in windows, on billboards, and t-shirts. Glasgow seems to be leaning toward the Yes campaign as far as I can tell, but I’ve heard that other places (particularly Edinburgh) are much more firmly No.
Adverts regarding the referendum have been airing for a while now, some for and against, some serious and some funny. This is one of my favorites, which aired on Sky and gave me a good laugh the first time I saw it:
Many of them have been heavy on the heart strings, like this Better Together campaign that argues against “gambling” with the children of Scotland’s future.
Famous faces have thrown themselves into the debate, with seemingly most of them (including JK Rowling, Susan Boyle, Paul McCartney Eddie Izzard, David Bowie, Pope Francis, and David Tennant) encouraging Scots to vote no. However, the lack of celebrity support hasn’t much phased working class Scots who reason that they have more to gain from exiting the union than rich celebrities. (But, of course, Sean Connery has been encouraging a Yes vote, even though he hasn’t lived in the UK for some years now.)
Up until a few weeks ago I would have been comfortable saying that Scotland will probably stay in the United Kingdom but everything I’ve read recently indicates that the voting will be neck and neck.
Obviously I’m not a Scottish citizen and I don’t get a vote, so I’m not going to be tossing my hat into either ring. As far as I’m concerned it’s a decision for Scottish citizens to make. As someone who is fascinated by Scottish history and has been harboring thoughts about living in Scotland in the future, I’m interested in the outcome.
Tomorrow I’ll be going to the polls with Seán and hopefully I’ll have a post up tomorrow night about the result.
What do you think the outcome will be, and what would your vote be?
Yes, or no thanks?